I was wondering if anyone had any tips on seeing the elusive peregrines at Rainham?
I constantly see the blog/recent sightings full of peregrines, especially around christmas where you had six apparently? Turned up the next day and didnt see one!
Im really not an expert, or even close, so I probably just miss them. I know they tend to favour the pylons and I know the basics facts such as how they hunt and what not but any specific tips for seeing them at Rainham?
Hi, I have seen the Peregrines hunting quite low Over the marsh (Aveley pools) the last few times I have been there.
Watch out for a sudden flocks of Lapwing and other species taking off together, this can be hit and miss as the Lapwing are quite skittish at the best of times.
Really it's a matter of patience but early morning and late afternoon are good times to see them hunting and always check the pylons.
Thanks! I always check the pylons anyway, never seen a peregrine there but my Dad did spot a kestrel on one of them which we watched for a few minutes.
Is there an online map that shows area like the Aveley Pools and what not? I know *roughly* where various places are and I can have an educated guess but it's nice to be sure!
No probs. If you head through the woodland area and continue up to the Northern trail which takes you past the Ken Barrett hide the platforms there are a good place to spot them from here you can then move on to the Pylons.
I have also seen them hunting over Wennington scrape at the back of the reserve which you can observe from the Shooting Butts hide.
I agree with everything Craig has said, but would add one thing. When you get to the visitor centre, just ask if there are any peregrines about, and where - they will usually have a good idea. Often a peregrine will sit up in the same pylon for hours, and if anyone has a telescope set up in the visitor centre they may well have spotted it - giving you a good idea of exactly where to look when you get out on the reserve.
Ah we often take the path anti clockwise purely to get to the pylon area ASAP just in case ;) We will see if anyone spots them next time we visit and get some tips, I always look skyward when I see the Lapwing and what not take off, just in case!
I've just got back from the reserve, when I got there there was a scope set up by reception, focused on a peregrine in the pylons!
Aww we must've just missed that! We turned up about the time you posted this, around quarter past/half past 1, got ourselves the map leaflet and asked about the peregrines and was told there had been two seen. We walked clockwise this time, saw a Little Grebe (first confirmed one I've seen) and a few stonechat, made our way up to the shooting butt area and spent a while looking at the target pools and saw 5 Herons all in that one pool, one of which looked like it was eating a crab? either that or a very small bird... I've seen them eat a starling before so i know they will take small birds but it looked like it had a lot of creamy-orange coloured legs but I dont know how salty that pool is, anyone? Anyhoo, a lot of lunch and watching lapwings and Herons later we wandered down to the Northern boardwalk about 3-3:15 as the light was just starting to dim, we had decided our best chance was to be back at the target pools around sunset, about 3:45 I spotted a bird high up in the Pylons, it never moved unfortunately, just a little preening, so I'm not going to say it was a Peregrine but.... I'm calling it three quarters of a sighting :D The only other thing it could be was a Kestrel but it looked way too big to be a kestrel, it was really hard to guage size and detail due to the light and distance but I'd say a smallish Peregrine (possibly a male or this years young perhaps?) On the plus side as we started our brisk walk back about 5 past 4 we saw a fox at fairly close range which was brilliant through the binoculars and knowing that in that area it is probably a wild fox as opposed to an urban one. That rounded the day off nicely. Mission *nearly* accomplished!
Hi Shadow, The bird you saw high up on the pylons was probably a Peregrine as I saw one around 12pm today feeding near the top of one of the pylons but its hard to say which sex it was.
The bird or crab you spotted being eaten by the Heron could well be a Crayfish species that if memory serves me are present at Rainham. Wennington is fresh water (rain water) and beyond this scrape are the silt lagoons which are not connected to the scrape as they are saline.
I did think crayfish, we used to catch them Pike fishing and they are horrible little things but the water was only knee deep to the Heron, so unless that was a shallow section I'd be impressed if a Crayfish could survive and breed in the water. Whatever it was the Heron swallowed it greedily so it was certainly food! Either way it was enjoyable to see behaviour such as feeding and to see 5 Herons in just that one pool. Had a look for the Marsh Harrier there too but with no luck unfortunately.
I am a volunteer at Rainham and I agree with all the info above. If you see any of the vols at Rainham trail walking ask them to help you. If they don't know the answer they should have a radio with them and can call up for help/advice.
Rainham is a freshwater grazing marsh and the last thing we want on it is salt water as it will change the whole ecology. Herons will eat anything, including such things as calf afterbirth!
As with all birdwatching keep your eyes open and look to see what others are looking at.
Thanks to all my vols who got in there with all the info before I did! Good work team! H;o)